Cremation costs in 2024: How much should you pay for a direct cremation service?

Cremation Memorial Service Different Options

Over 60% of Americans now choose cremation as their ‘preferred’ disposition and death care option. This shift from traditional burial to cremation is having a huge impact on the funeral industry. While cremation makes funerals more affordable for families, it also decreases funeral homes’ revenue. What we are starting to witness in 2024 is the impact of cremation in terms of pricing.

This guide explores cremation costs, compares direct cremation prices in 19 top cities, explains your options for inexpensively pre-arranging a cheap direct cremation, and whether we can expect cremation costs to rise.

Visit the table below to check direct cremation costs near you

Cremation saves on funeral costs

Often, families think of cremation as a way to save costs.  Although there are different reasons why a family chooses cremation, the lower cost of a cremation funeral is by far the primary reason.  A cremation service is generally at least half the cost of a burial service, if not more.  But direct cremation is what is revolutionizing the funeral industry at present.

Direct cremation is the most economical cremation option. What the industry is not telling us is that direct cremation now accounts for around 70% of all cremations performed.

What does a cremation cost?

What is a direct cremation?  And why is this challenging the funeral industry?

A direct cremation is a simple cremation conducted without any ceremony or services. This means the funeral establishment (or crematory) simply handles the deceased’s collection, completes the required legal administration, and performs the cremation. The cremated remains are then returned directly to the family. This means that the cremation can be delivered at a much-reduced cost.

The demand for direct cremation is challenging an industry that once did not feel the need to provide up-front funeral pricing. Now, cremation consumers are shopping around to compare prices and seek out the most affordable direct cremation service they can find. As within other consumer sectors, why would you opt to pay hundreds (if not thousands) of dollars more for the exact same product or service?

How much should you expect to pay for a direct cremation?

cremation prices 2024

A direct cremation’s cost varies in any one area. If you conduct a simple comparison between 5 funeral homes and cremation providers, asking for the cost of a direct cremation from their General Price List, you will see a difference in price, especially if you select a range of different providers, from a small funeral home to a large corporate funeral home.  

In most major cities, a direct cremation can be conducted for between $795 to $995.  Rural areas tend to be more expensive, as there is less competition for the cremation market.

Comparing cremation prices

The chart below highlights the comparison between a DFS Memorials independent low-cost cremation provider and the average cost for a direct cremation in a city.

Click on the city below to call directly to the DFS Memorials provider for that city

AREADFS Provider direct cremation priceAverage direct cremation price*
New York City NY$695$1,969
Los Angeles CA$925$1,524
Houston TX$749$2,173
Chicago IL$1,295$1,949
Philadelphia PA$1,295$1,798
Phoenix AZ$850$1,337
San Antonio TX$795$1,856
San Diego CA$1,195$1,358
Jacksonville FL$795$1,648
Dallas-Fort Worth TX$795$1,944
Indianapolis IN$850$2,261
Seattle WA$895$1,519
Detroit MI$995$1,199
Boston MA$1,395$2,332
Memphis TN$1,295$2,060
Oklahoma City OK$945$1,914
Las Vegas NV$895$1,526
Louisville KY$850$1,880
Denver CO$795$1,791
*Average direct cremation price 2024 obtained from Funeral Home Comparison website

Are cremation prices likely to rise in 2024?

Cremation planning

The market for cremation services will continue to become more competitive.  Cremation has continued to disrupt the funeral industry in 2024 as this article explains.

Most funeral businesses need to increase their volume of cremation business to sustain their revenue.  This is already leading to cremation ‘price wars’ in some cities, where funeral homes are reducing their direct cremation price to increase their volume of cases.

However, we are also witnessing an aggressive approach from corporate funeral entities, who need to acquire their own share of the cremation business. Corporate death care companies, such as Dignity Memorial and The Neptune Society, can afford to enlist the expertise of professional marketing services and ‘dominate’ in the domain of online advertising and direct mail. Corporate and privately owned funeral entities across the U.S. are acquiring successful independent cremation businesses to dominate a cremation market in a specific area.

We observed an example of this recently with Foundation Partners (a privately-owned funeral business with 80 locations in 17 states) acquiring a longstanding family business in Tucson.  The family business had offered the lowest cost direct cremation to families in Tucson and continues to operate under the existing funeral home name.

In the last 6 months, I have witnessed these large funeral entities position themselves to dominate a market and begin to raise cremation prices in their market area.

Pre-arranging cremation services & locking in a low price now

Taking out a pre-arrangement cremation plan today could potentially protect you against the possibility of rising cremation costs.  A direct cremation plan can be funded by an insurance product or a trust and ensures you lock in today’s prices.  The terms will differ, depending on your state legislation on funeral plans and your personal circumstances for making payment.

Pre-arrange cremation service

An important aspect of pre-arranging a cremation is pre-authorizing it. For a cremation to proceed, the legal next-of-kin must sign a Cremation Authorization Form.

But when pre-arranging, you can pre-authorize your wish for cremation, saving the surviving family from the decision when the time comes. Typically, a direct cremation that costs $650 today at-need would cost approximately $1,200 to pre-plan and pre-pay over 24 months.

Alternatively, you can pre-plan by doing some research to determine an affordable cremation services provider near you and put aside the required funds for an ‘at-need’ direct cremation in a POD (Payable on Death) account at your bank.

Many funeral service providers are happy to prepare the necessary paperwork for cremation and keep it on file for when the need arises. This allows you to retain control of your cremation funds while having made the proper provision for your surviving family.

Read more about pre-planning a cremation or funeral with a POD account.

So, the key ‘takeaways’ from this article are that you should ensure you compare cremation costs before deciding on a cremation service provider and be aware that the cremation market is likely to change over the coming years.

Further information on the impact of the increasing cremation rate in 2024, how COVID-19 has dramatically disrupted the cremation market, and how direct cremation has become the number one option for families can be found in this article ‘Cremation Costs in 2024: How cremation is disrupting the Funeral Industry.’

Another useful resource is this Ultimate Guide to Cremation from US Funerals Online.

Sara Marsden

I have been researching and writing about the death care industry for the last fifteen years. End of life services and experiences are something most of us choose not to reflect upon until we are suddenly faced with dealing with it. I have been contributing comprehensive and independent resources for families that explain how the funeral industry operates, and the laws that govern funeral practices. Sara writes for US Funerals Online and DFS Memorials LLC, as well as contributing to other forums and publications for the death care industry. I have a BA in Cultural Studies. This helps my analysis of cultural death care rituals, alongside a career background in Business Management. The death care industry is undergoing an epoch of change and this fascinates me.

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